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THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY             259

difference, however, was in the study of the languages. The
distrust with which St. Cyran regarded the classics had given way
to a real appreciation of their cultural value, and much care was
taken in the teaching of them. But while in this respect the Little
Schools drew closer to the general practice, there was one signi-
ficant departure from common usage. The language of instruction
throughout was not Latin but French. And with this went an
emphasis on those aspects of classical study that made for a better
grasp of the native language. Translation into good French was
considered more important than translation from French into
Latin or Greek. In short, the teachers of Port Royal had made the
great discovery that French was well worthy of study for its own
sake. " Considering the point of perfection which our language
has reached," says Coustel (writing about the methods of the
Schools many years later), " it surely deserves that we should
cultivate it a little. As a matter of fact it has never been so rich
in its expressions, so noble in its phrases, so precise and so pregnant
in its epithets, so subtle in its turns and circumlocutions, so
majestic in its motions, so brilliant in its metaphors, and, finally,
so natural and so perfectly magnificent and lofty in its verse, as
it is at present. It would then be shameful for children to be
barbarians in their own country, while all the nations are striving,
one against the other, to learn all the beauties of this language
and to perfect themselves in it."*

The founder's love of children, passing to disciples whose study
of Descartes had made them seek clearness and distinctness of
thought, led, on the one hand, to the desire for a more intimate
knowledge of child nature as the basis of educational work; and,
on the other hand, to a constant endeavour to find methods of
instruction which would remove every avoidable difficulty from
the way of their pupils. The first was perhaps the more important
of the two, for it led to the beginnings of child study. Coustel,
for example, enunciates the principle that the teacher must take
account of the differences of mental type displayed by his pupils.
" If a physician cannot prescribe remedies suitable for the healing
of the body without knowing its various temperaments, and if a
farmer ought not to set about sowing a field without knowing
the quality of its soil, then beyond doubt a schoolmaster should
also know the different kinds of intellect which he has to

* Barnard, The Little Schools of Port Royal, p. 119.